Not In Service

Okay, this is a warning. The subject discussed in the following column is shocking. It is so culturally incorrect that I am, in fact, writing it while wearing a false nose and mustache so no one realizes who it is. I would hate to have this reported to Congress, the clergy, the National Enquirer, or my mom.

I try to stop answering the phone this time of year.

Yes, I know, I know, I KNOW! This is 2011, and those people who actually do remove their phones at bedtime put ‘em on a table within reach. I have seen pillowcases with Blackberry pockets. Every day I see at least one man in the library Men’s Room involved in very difficult multi-tasking. (I refer, of course, to the difficulty of washing one’s hands while on the phone.) It is heretical to claim a phone call can be less important than anything else.

But you get to hear my dulcet voice anyhow, on the recorded message. And have a heart, toadstool muffin. I work with a landline: the phone is at one end of the room and I may well be at the other, pricing the latest dainties to come into the room. (Got a nice program from a Chicago Cardinals game.) The phone rings, and, knowing I have four rings before it switches to voicemail, I jump over boxes and dodge around bags of cassettes to pick up the phone.

“Book Fair!”

“Yes. Are you still accepting books?”

When we have covered that weighty matter, I can return to work with the good stuff. (About three dozen linen postcards from Ireland, vintage 1912). The phone rings. I leap over the exercise videos for your astral projection and grab the phone.

“Book Fair!”

“Yes, Ma’am. I have some books to give you and wondered what kind of books you take.”

Grumbling just a bit, I work through some of his more easily-solved problems, and move back to the latest donations. (Who went to the 1939 World’s Fair and brought home a brochure from the Hormone Woman exhibit?) The phone rings. My feet know just exactly which box to carom off so I can get to the phone on the third ring.

“Book Fair!”

“Hello. Where can I drop off books?”

All this information is, after all, on that lilting, almost poetic message on the voicemail. AND you can get the information without having to listen to me pant and wheeze after having jumped a cart that some idiot (me) moved right where it blocks the most direct route.

So if you get the machine instead of me, please listen find out if it answers your questions. I have to get back to reading about Hormone Woman.

ADOPTION UPDATE: This adoption program ends in less than ten days, so stop thinking about it and vote with your wallet. The Shakespeare quotation is currently running away with first place. Debussy is behind by 25 percent, now tied with the poster from the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy railroad (which was way back in the pack at the last update). The Dancing Baptist quotation is a close third, with Mozart falling back into a four-way tie for fourth.

The Adoption program will, I am told, be making an appearance on YouTube soon, part of the Newberry Minute including a recording of a bit of the sheet music with the dancing champagne bottles. This may change your mind about what to adopt, so the best plan is to adopt something now and then, when you’ve seen the Newberry Minute, adopt something else. (That’s logic the way we practice it where I work.) 

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